Who is the customer?

by | Mar 4, 2013 | Editor's Blog, NC Politics

The Republicans in the North Carolina legislature have decided that they need to scrap all of the institutional knowledge of boards and commissions charged with protecting the public interest. They unabashedly admit that they want to put a partisan spin on the appointments and seem to think the 2012 election gave them that right. Pat McCrory, for his part, wants to take a “customer service” approach to regulatory oversight.

Personally, I don’t buy the customer service model. It stems from the idea that we should run government like a business. Government is not a business because a business’s goal is to maximize profits. Maximizing profits in government is called corruption.

But even, if you accept the “customer service” concept, McCrory has it all wrong with the boards and commissions like the Coastal Resources Commission, the Utilities Commission and the Wildlife Resources Council. The customers here are not business and industry; the customers are the citizens of North Carolina. The regulatory oversight that the boards provide is designed to protect the health and well-being of the public and to ensure that our shared natural resources are used in a way that most benefits the people of the state, not businesses that would exploit them.

If improving customer service in government means making it more accessible and transparent, that’s great, but if improving customer service means helping businesses help themselves to our precious natural resources, we could see harm to our state that will make it less attractive to future generations.


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